Fundraising Thermometer

The fundraising thermometer is a standard nonprofit tool for websites, posters, presentations, and reports. Creating them and updating them can be awkward, especially if you need a high-resolution image.

I build this thermometer in a spreadsheet, where all the user has to do is enter a title and a few numbers and the image generation is completely automatic. It can then be pasted into whatever program you like.

To build this spreadsheet, I started by creating the graphics for the thermometer bulb, the full part of the thermometer, the empty part, the top of the thermometer, and the “explosion.

I used a column chart overlaid on the graphics to change the amount raised, and put the text in cells behind the chart. The box and horizontal lines are cell borders.

To start, just enter the name of the project, the fundraising goal, and the amount you’ve already spent into the green box.
As fundraising continues, just change the amount raised and the thermometer updates. The text for the amount raised moves up the thermometer along with the top of the “mercury,” and the percentage is recalculated and centered. If you’re spending money as you raise it, just fill in the “spent” box and that information is added to the graphic.
If you’re lucky enough to raise more than the goal, the graphic changes to show the mercury bursting out of the top of the thermometer. The percentage updates and centers, and the amount raised changes to green italics and moves up above the goal.

Tools used for this project

  • Adobe Photoshop to create the thermometer graphics
  • Microsoft Excel for everything else